Gateway’s present strength has historic foundations
SANTA CLARA, Calif.— Reporting the highest fall headcount in core programs in the history of Gateway Seminary, president Jeff Iorg told the trustees of growth amid pandemic and recessionary pressures.
Iorg reported to trustees Gateway had reached the highest fall headcount in master’s programs in the school’s history. The fall 2022 headcount of 933 is a 5.6% increase over fall 2021. Fall 2022 enrolled hours increased 5.2% from 2021 to a total of 5,017, the highest mark since fall 2006. The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program also reached an all-time high enrollment of 282.
Pointing to the past as a source of historic strength, Iorg shared a story of a faithful California church at a dinner following the 2022 fall trustee meeting.
Iorg had recently preached at Southwinds Church in Tracy, California, during their 75th anniversary celebration. To prepare for the celebration, the church reviewed historic documents and found the minutes of the first business meeting of the church, then known as First Baptist Church in Tracy.
“Here is the weekly budget in September 1947, the founding week of First Baptist Church in Tracy,” said Iorg.
“Rent - six dollars; Pastor salary - five dollars; Literature 90 cents; Sunday bulletin - 50 cents; Cooperative Program - one dollar. The last line: Golden Gate Seminary - 50 cents,” he said.
Gateway Seminary was founded as Golden Gate Seminary in 1944 and was adopted into the Southern Baptist Convention in 1950. Prior to time, the seminary depended on gifts from individuals and churches.
“When Golden Gate Seminary was still an embryonic dream, this band of people in Tracy, California, decided to launch a church and in their first meeting said, ‘Out of that $13.90 budget, we are going to give $1.50 to missions, a dollar to the Cooperative Program and fifty cents to the Seminary,’” he said.
“I wonder if those believers have any awareness, while they're celebrating in heaven, of what their 50 cents has become,” he said.
In other business, trustees approved the hiring of Dr. Garrett Ho as associate professor of leadership and associate director of the D.Min. program. Ho is an alumnus of Gateway’s D.Min. program and serves as pastor of operations at Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles and chaplain of the Alhambra Police Department.
Trustees also approved a new strategic plan to open multiple teaching sites as part of the seminary’s commitment to training leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. In 2016, Gateway opened a campus in Fremont, California.
“While there has been much good work done through that campus, the enrollment at that location has not been what we expected nor what we hoped it would be,” said Iorg.
He said the challenges of starting a new campus, COVID-19, and commuting difficulties and costs have all contributed to low enrollment at the campus.
“This past summer, we spoke with students, employees and ministry partners in the Bay Area about what we can do to best serve the needs of the region,” Iorg said.
“What we concluded was in-person instruction in the Bay Area is very important to both students and us. The request was for more locations to augment our work in Fremont.”
The plan is to launch up to two new teaching sites by fall 2023 while continuing to use the campus in Fremont. Trustees also approved a plan to market the campus for sale, with a final decision about that possibility to be made in the future.
“At some point in the future, we may sell it, but we are under no compulsion to do so,” Iorg said.
“We will wait and see how the campus fits into our long-term commitment to the Bay Area and Northern California.”
Additionally, trustees adopted a plan to implement a solar power structure in the parking lot of the campus in Ontario, California. This plan is projected to result in $2 million in utility savings for the seminary over the next 20 years.